|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2012 Substantive Session
33rd & 34th Meetings (AM & PM)
Differences Are Source of Strength, Heads of Funds, Programmes Say, Urge Flexible,
Agile UN System, as Economic and Social Council Wraps up Operational Segment
Resident Coordinators Must Be Equal Parts ‘Team Player, Team Builder’,
Panel Told; Debate Revels High Expectations for 2012 Comprehensive Policy Review
The United Nations must define a results-oriented “One UN” strategy — one aimed at harmonizing the Organization’s development activities while still allowing individual funds and programmes to retain their autonomy — as its main approach at the country level, said top officials and Executive Board members of several entities today as they addressed the Economic and Social Council.
Against the backdrop of States’ mounting expectations for the United Nations system, and with the General Assembly’s review of its operational activities for development just months away, speakers throughout the day stressed the urgency of establishing a more agile operational system with the ultimate goal of assisting those in need. In particular, several heads of Funds and Programmes — and many State representatives who took the floor in response to their statements — underscored the need for the upcoming Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review to guide new policies that would reduce bureaucracy, streamline decision-making structures and create a stronger, more empowered Resident Coordinator system.
“As Board Members, we are responsible for delivering results,” said Shobhana K. Pattanayak, President of the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP), who spoke to the Council via video link from that agency’s Rome headquarters. The United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes had different mandates, system and structures; however, those differences were also a source of strength. The system needed flexible and responsive coordination models, he said, noting, in particular, the need for a Resident Coordinator who could act on behalf of the whole development system.
Indeed, strengthening the Resident Coordinator system was clearly about choosing the right candidate with the right skills — one who fostered greater coherence among United Nations agencies. That official would be both a team player and a team builder, he stressed, and should also facilitate progress towards a predictable model of sharing the costs of the whole system.
Macharia Kamau, Vice-President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), stressed that, in the context of a changing and growing United Nations, the Resident Coordinator system should be able to manage greater complexities. Recent years had seen the expansion of UNICEF into a $4 billion “behemoth” and the vast growth of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the inception of a brand new agency, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). Moreover, he said, no agency should be completely integrated into the others, as, for example, no other organization was able to deliver humanitarian and other mandates for children in the way UNICEF did. “If our identity is lost, our ability to raise funds could be impaired,” he warned, emphasizing the need for balance.
Also addressing the Council, Fernando Fernández-Arias, Vice-President of the Executive Board of UN-Women, agreed with the other panellists that the Resident Coordinator was the “cornerstone” of the United Nations development system. An independent evaluation had shown that, unless that function was empowered, the effectiveness of the overall system would be hampered. One major problem was that participation in the Resident Coordinator system was voluntary, he stressed in that respect, while another was that the central responsibilities of many funds and programmes still rested with each respective agency. A possible solution was to enhance the Resident Coordinator’s authority over the United Nations country team.
Other specific challenges existed at a time of a rapidly changing development landscape, he said, echoing the concerns of many other speakers throughout the day that there was a growing imbalance between core and non-core development funding — the latter of which was frequently earmarked for particular uses and was, therefore, less flexible than the former. Meanwhile, important related challenges included the need to reduce transaction costs, increase the predictability of funding and expand the donor base for United Nations development efforts.
“We have a long way to go in regard to coordination and coherence”, said Candida Novak Hornakova, Vice-President of the joint Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). She emphasized that the upcoming Review should try to improve bureaucratic processes in order to decrease the level of resources consumed by them, thereby freeing up more funding for achieving results on the ground. To that end, she highlighted a number of initiatives that had already been implemented to develop coherence among agencies, including “common country programme documents” (CCPDs) — a kind of common reporting tool — and joint board meetings.
However, she said, neither of those initiatives had achieved the desired results. The length of CCPD annexes continued to be a challenge for funds and programmes, and they were not harmonized, meaning that the coherence of the exercise was lost. Moreover, the current procedure for the approval of those documents included approval by the different Executive Boards, a costly and time-consuming process. In addition, though joint board meetings had been in place since 1997, she believed that their lack of decision-making power hampered their ability to streamline the work of the agencies they represented. “Perhaps its time we hand them a decision-making mandate”, she said in that respect.
During the discussion that followed, representatives agreed that, while many efforts had been made in terms of coordination and coherence, there was a need to further improve how the United Nations system delivered on the ground. The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review would be a crucial exercise in that regard, some said. Others focused their comments on funding, stressing that assistance must remain untied, universal and predicated on the particular needs of a country.
“If you played well yesterday, you are expected to play better today”, said the representative of Bangladesh, referring to the “rising” expectations of countries where United Nations programmes, funds and agencies worked. In that context, the “Delivering as One” initiative was a “litmus test” for the Resident Coordinator system. In particular, the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the least Developed Countries and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) outcome would be a major test for Resident Coordinators, he said.
Also today, the Council heard a briefing from Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), who introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system”. “Overall, we have had a number of advances” in strategy but “implementation remained uneven”, she said, summarizing its findings. The document also highlighted coordination at the country level, and noted that promoting joint action and inter-agency coordination was key. In addition, during a subsequent question-and-answer session, Ms. Bachelet stressed that gender should be mainstreamed into the soon-to-be-elaborated post-2015 “Sustainable Development Goals” framework, as well as established as a stand-alone target.
The Council also held the general debate of its operational activities segment, hearing from more than 30 State representatives on issues ranging from the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation to the “One Budgetary Framework” approach to the mutual accountability of United Nations country team members.
Speaking during the general debate was the Deputy Director for Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia.
Participating were the representatives of Algeria (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Cyprus (speaking on behalf of the European Union), Nepal (on behalf of the Least Developed Countries) and Chile (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).
Also speaking were the representatives of Norway (speaking also for Finland, Iceland and Sweden), Australia, Ireland, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Germany, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, India, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Cuba, Canada, Japan and Pakistan.
Also taking part were the representatives of Chile (in his national capacity), Ukraine, Belarus, New Zealand, Venezuela, Bangladesh, China, Uruguay and Timor-Leste.
In addition, the representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and UN-Women took the floor.
The Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 18 July, to begin its Humanitarian Affairs Segment.
The Economic and Social Council met today to continue and conclude the operational activities segment of its 2012 session. The day was to feature a dialogue with the Chairs of Executive Boards of Funds and Programmes on: “How can Executive Boards foster enhanced policy coherence among the funds and programmes in areas such as reporting on development results, programming and common administrative services at the country level?”
For its discussions, the Council had before it the reports of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services; the United Nations Children’s Fund; the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; and the World Food Programme (documents E/2011/35 (Supp. No. 15), E/2012/5, E/2012/6, E/2012/14, E/2012/34 (Part II), E/2012/34/Rev.1, E/2012/34 (Part I)/Add.1, E/2012/36 (Supp. No. 16) and E/2012/L.7). (For background, please see Press Release ECOSOC/6535 of 13 July.)
It also had before it two documents on the Follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council (documents A/67/93–E/2012/79 and A/67/94–E/2012/80). (For background, please see Press Release ECOSOC/6535 of 13 July.)
Also today, the Council was to consider its agenda item on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, for which it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on that topic (document E/2012/61). The report assesses progress made in the implementation of the gender mainstreaming strategy across the United Nations system. It places a special emphasis on the promotion of accountability for system-wide work on gender equality and women’s empowerment at global and country levels.
The report presents the recently approved system-wide action plan on gender equality and empowerment of women, which institutes a system-wide accountability framework. The action plan was the result of a consultative process facilitated by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). Finally, the report also includes recommendations aimed at further progress, for consideration by the Economic and Social Council.
Finally today, the Council was to hold the general debate of its operational activities segment.
Today’s panel, on “How can Executive Boards foster enhanced policy coherence among the funds and programmes in areas such as reporting on development results, programming and common administrative services at the country level?”, featured panellists Fernando Fernández-Arias, Vice-President, Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); Shobhana K. Pattanayak, President, Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP) (via video link; Macharia Kamau, Vice-President, Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and Candida Novak Hornakova, Vice-President, Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Moderator DOUGLAS LINDORES, former Chair, Executive Board of UNDP, said the Council’s operational activities segment had benefited from various discussions over the past two days. Today, it would hear additional perspectives by Executive Heads of several funds and programmes. At the country level, the United Nations development system had become more coherent and effective than before thanks to Member States and all stakeholders involved. But looking ahead, he said the difficulty of coordinating different agencies’ priorities at their headquarters must be addressed.
Mr. FERNÁNDEZ-ARIAS said specific challenges existed at a time of changing development landscape. With the next Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review cycle looming, there was the need to take into account the Millennium Development Goals, its review process, the post-2015 development agenda, and the independent evaluation of the “Delivering as One” initiative. There was an urgent need to step up work towards improving the functions of the United Nations development system, he said, adding that such reform must go beyond the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review.
He went on to highlight two particular challenges, the first being financing, which included the issues of balancing core and non-core funding, transaction costs, predictability of funding, expanding of the donor base, and various other means of financing and financial mechanisms. Secondly, there was the question of the Resident Coordinator system. That mechanism was the cornerstone of the United Nations development system but it must address matters regarding equitable burden sharing, as well as other functional shortcomings. One problem was that it was voluntary in nature. Also challenging was that many funds and programmes retained autonomy, with responsibilities resting with each respective agency. The result of the independent evaluation showed that, unless the Resident Coordinator function was empowered, the system would not improve its effectiveness. A possible solution was to enhance that official’s authority over the United Nations country team.
As for common country programmes, which was aligned with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), he said there should be better prior coordination among country teams and among recipients. This mechanism was also voluntary in nature, which was a shortcoming. It was time to consider adopting common country programmes at the Joint Executive Board level. But that Board was also voluntary in nature and it did not have a decision-making mandate. The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) had done an excellent job, but much work remained, particularly in harmonizing processes. Harmonization of norms and rules was a long-term goal. It was time to consider establishing a leading agency, or an interagency business centre, to lead activities in the field. The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review should incorporate the independent evaluation’s findings. The “Delivering as One” initiative should not be just a model, but should be included as a solution in Quadrennial Review, he added.
“‘Delivering as One’ must be about delivering results for the most vulnerable people”, said Mr. PATTANAYAK, speaking via video link from Rome. He said that a major focus going forward should be on aligning the systems and operations of the United Nations system on the ground. The Organization and its programmes had a collective responsibility to mutual accountability and national ownership, he added in that respect, and it must continue to strive for further progress, including by looking at areas where headquarters systems could be improved. “As Board Members, we are responsible for delivering results,” he stressed. The agencies had different mandates, system and structures; however, differences were also a source of strength. The system needed flexible and agile coordination models, he said in that respect.
The World Food Programme engaged in special collaborations with other Rome-based bodies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Describing the World Food Programme’s particular reporting and funding framework — through which it relied on voluntary funding alone — he said that “indirect support costs” covered all administrative and other costs not directly connected with any particular country programme. Within those boundaries, the Programme provided a considerable share of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator systems. Additionally, as the largest humanitarian organization in the system, the World Food Programme contributed substantially by leading three humanitarian clusters in the field.
Strengthening the Resident Coordinator system was clearly about choosing the right candidate with the right skills — one who fostered greater coherence among United Nations agencies. That official would be a team player and a team builder, he said, adding that “the Resident Coordinator must act on behalf of the whole system”, he said. The Coordinators should also facilitate progress towards a predictable model of sharing the costs of the whole system.
He said that within the WFP, progress was being made towards United Nations system coherence, including through harmonization and joint initiatives, country-level coherence and work within the “Delivering as One” framework. The Programme was the first agency to adopt the International Public Sector Accounting Standards, he said, and it was ready to share its experience with those standards. It had also adopted common principles for results, and participated in joint statements at major conferences, such as at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) last month. He said that WFP was working to mainstream gender in all its activities, and worked to promote the role of women and girls as key players in food security.
Mr. KAMAU stressed the importance of operational activities, which made a difference in the lives of the poor and the vulnerable and reaffirmed the crucial role of the Economic and Social Council to oversee operational activities for development. The comprehensive review progress had been going on for about 40 years. The question was what were the cumulative results? Was the United Nations development delivery better than it was 40 years ago? The answer was an unequivocal yes.
The Council should never lose sight of the changing environment, he continued, noting that UN-Women did not exist a couple of years ago; UNICEF had grown into a $4 billion organization; and the UNDP had also grown into a huge operation. Such expansion came with added complexities. In addition, the expectations of least developed and middle-income countries were different although both categories were among programme countries. Various agencies must, therefore, come together to implement relevant programmes, he said, adding that the Resident Coordinator system should be able to manage greater complexities. The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review must also take all those complexities into consideration.
Yet, attention tended to go primarily to business-side and administrative issues, such as how to harmonize processes, he said, stressing the need to challenge each agency to also focus on results and impacts. The UNDAF was a great tool, but it must remain nimble in responding to needs. As for the Resident Coordinator system, he reiterated that individual coordinators must be capable of managing complexities.
As for common country programmes, which was closely linked to the Resident Coordinator system and the “Delivering as One” initiative, he went on to argue that there was a downside, or a risk. An organization, like UNICEF, which was a “$4 billion behemoth”, could not be entirely merged into the global system. As that was the case, the importance of division of labour must be kept in mind. Indeed, no other organization was able to deliver humanitarian and other mandates for children in the way UNICEF did. “If our identity is lost, our ability to raise funds could be impaired”, he said, stressing the need for balance.
Ms. HORNAKOVA said that, over the last few days, many interesting ideas and concrete proposals had been presented on how to strengthen the coordination and coherence of United Nations funds and programmes. As a result of a recent General Assembly decision, two informal coordination meetings had been held between the Bureau of the Economic and Social Council and the Heads of the Executive Boards, among other new meetings. However, she said, “we feel there is a need for better dialogue” between those stakeholders. “We have a long way to go in regard to coordination and coherence,” she added.
The Executive Board of the UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS was a special case, as it provided oversight of three different agencies, she said. With regard to the harmonization of business practices, “we should try to fix the bureaucratic processes in order to decrease the level of resources going to those processes, and achieve the desired results on the ground”.
In the context of the world’s current economic hardship, it was critical to look at possible cost reductions. Several General Assembly and Economic and Social Council resolutions dealt with coordination of administrative and related systems, she said in that respect, but the Funds and Programmes continued to develop new agency-specific software, among other individualized procedures. In addition, each agency had different programming terminology and results frameworks, as well as cost classifications. Reporting requirements, in particular, needed to be streamlined, as they continued to be a large burden on the agencies and Member States.
For the Funds and Programmes to work together more effectively, there was no better option than to let them report, in a common way, on how they were doing. Touching on the common country programme documents (CCPDs), she said those documents had been developed as a tool to promote coordination and coherence. The first few had been developed over the last few years, so the first assessments could now be conducted. With regard to developing new CCPDs, the length of annexes continued to be a challenge for funds and programmes, and they were not harmonized; therefore, the coherence of that exercise was lost.
Moreover, the current procedure for the approval of those documents included approval by the different Executive Boards, and she agreed, in that respect, with those who had stressed the costliness of the process and suggested that it be changed. There was still a gap in the policy dialogue taking place in the Council or in the Assembly, she added in that vein. Joint boards meetings had been in place since 1997, but she did not believe that they had achieved the desired results. “Perhaps its time we hand them a decision-making mandate” in areas such as the harmonization of CCPDs and others, she said.
Mr. LINDORES, summarizing those statements, said that they had provided a good “counterbalance” to the field perspective that had been seen over the last few days. Moreover, they had suggested rethinking how governance was structured, and, in particular, had proposed “new decision-making mandates”.
During the discussion that followed, representatives agreed that, while many efforts had been made in terms of coordination and coherence, there was a need to further improve how the United Nations system delivered on the ground. The Quadrennial Policy Review would be a crucial exercise in that regard, some said. Others focused their comments on funding, stressing that assistance must remain untied, universal and predicated on the particular needs of a country.
Stressing, in that vein, the need for un-earmarked resources, the representative of Cuba asked how the panellists felt about the growing imbalance between core and non-core resources. He also agreed with Mr. Kamau that flexibility was critical when the UNDAFs were created, and warned that those frameworks must not become “straightjackets” for those on the ground.
Still others touched on the Resident Coordinator system, with the representative of Bangladesh calling the “Delivering as One” initiative a “litmus test” for it. The implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries and the Rio+20 outcome would be a major test for Resident Coordinators, he said. Moreover, the United Nations funds and programmes were becoming more important partners for development, and expectations were rising. Countries wished to see them performing better on the ground. “If you played well yesterday, you are expected to play better today”, he said in that regard. He asked the panellists for their views on how the Resident Coordinator system could better respond to the needs on the ground, as well as on how to encourage participation of their respective funds and programmes in that system.
While many speakers agreed with the suggestion to grant new decision-making powers, the representative of the Russian Federation stressed that the Executive Boards could not take decisions in isolation from the overall situation in the countries. Therefore, better dialogue was needed between the country level and headquarters, with field visits playing an important role. With regard to establishing coordination and coherence, she said that the introduction of target indicators and benchmarks for implementation warranted further consideration. However, she also warned against “overloading” reports with indicators, instead emphasizing the need to focus on the quality of conclusions and recommendations.
Making a number of specific recommendations, the representative of the Philippines stressed the need to initiate more local activities and partnerships. There was a need to define each United Nations organization’s particular niche, he said, which was important to mobilize resources for equity, rather than having resources spread thinly over a wide range of thematic areas. He also raised the idea of using a “UN scorecard” to measure the impacts of programmes and activities. More time was needed in consulting host country Governments in order to avoid “donor-driven” programmes and mechanisms. Meanwhile, the representative of Canada suggested that joint board meetings should be an opportunity to allow representatives of all the Boards to listen to presentations from the countries on how the United Nations system could best support them.
Responding to the representative of Cuba on core and non-core funding, Mr. FERNÁNDEZ-ARIAS said that the United Nations system in general would prefer donors to use regular budgeting channels, namely core funding, as it allowed for greater flexibility and fewer costs. Addressing the representative of Bangladesh on how to encourage agencies to participate in “Delivering as One”, he said that UN-Women had expressed its full commitment to that initiative. The Executive Board would not need to encourage that entity to participate. With regard to the comments of the representative of the Russian Federation, he agreed that it was critical for the heads of the Executive Boards to continue to engage in an ongoing dialogue with country representatives, calling for more informal meetings in that respect. There did, indeed, need to be greater involvement of the recipient country.
Mr. PATTANAYAK, also on core and non-core funding, said that WFP would welcome predictable, reliable finances, from either category. Mr. KAMAU said that, while non-core funds were important for driving certain outcomes, the character of the United Nations system was determined by core funds. It was also important to recall that those funds were the primary drivers of the harmonization exercises, he said, they also helped drive the critical neutrality of the United Nations system. Moreover, it was possible to seek both core and non-core funds without damaging either. He agreed also with the Russian Federation on the “overload” of bureaucratic requirements, which were a burden on agencies and required core funds.
Ms. HORNAKOVA, addressing the issue of dialogue between the Economic and Social Council and the Executive Boards, agreed with the idea of holding informal dialogues. Perhaps next year such discussions could be focused on a particular topic, she suggested in that regard, calling for action-oriented outcomes.
Introduction of Report
Following that dialogue, the Council heard MICHELLE BACHELET, the Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), introduce a report on Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system (document E/2012/61), which, she said, placed particular emphasis on progress in promoting system-wide accountability on gender equality and women empowerment at both the global and country levels.
It highlighted accountability and a system-wide action plan, she said, and while some progress had been made, more needed to be done. The report also featured result-based approaches in management and monitoring and stressed the importance of collecting and analysing sex-disaggregated data to indentify and address gender disparities and inequality. “Overall, we have had a number of advances” in strategy but “implementation remained uneven”, she said, stressing the need for delivery of quality, relevance and impact.
The report also highlighted coordination at the country level. Promoting joint action and inter-agency coordination was key. Inter-agency coordination could leverage the United Nations combined strengths. With the Rio+20 Conference outcome document reaffirming the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women, she looked forward to the adoption of a resolution in the upcoming general segment of the Council’s substantive session.
As the floor was opened for questions and comments, the representative of the United States said that she supported the conclusions of the Secretary-General’s report, especially on the need for comparable data. The end result of the entity’s work needed to be improving the lives of women and girls, and a tool was needed to see if the work being done was indeed leading to those ends. The United States, therefore, supported the resolution on gender mainstreaming, she said.
The representative of Lebanon asked whether Ms. Bachelet felt that gender focal points and gender networking could be equally valuable at the country level as at regional level. With regard to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, she asked whether Ms. Bachelet felt that gender should be mainstreamed across all the Goals, or whether it should be its own goal within itself. The representative of Canada also asked about the capacity of United Nations staff to deliver on the mainstreaming of gender in their different mandates. What could be included in the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review in that respect?
Responding, Ms. BACHELET said that mainstreaming was essential, “but it is clearly not enough”. Mainstreaming meant that the issue of gender could disappear; when it was “too mainstreamed”, it might not be present at all, she said in that respect. Only about 5.6 per cent of the whole global development budget went specifically to women, and that was not enough. Short- and medium-term programmes and policies focused on gender were needed, and it was also essential to measure whether mainstreaming was really having concrete results. In the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, that meant both mainstreaming gender across the Goals, but also setting a specific target related to gender.
On the issue of focal points, she said that, at the regional level, there were two new regional centres — in Egypt and Panama — and, therefore, new focal points were not needed. UN-Women would be working through the country teams, as well as with Resident Coordinator system and through sister agencies. That work might be called a “focal point”, but instead it was really more of a close linkage.
Moreover, UN-Women, as opposed to engaging in a “turf battle” with other agencies, was working well with and through them. With regard to the capacity of United Nations staff, she said that more work was required to harmonize training in women’s empowerment and gender equality. The other issue was that of implementation. “You see good plans, but you do not know if it’s really focused or really aligned with national priorities”, she said in that respect.
On a different matter, she said that “Delivering as One” was, for UN-Women, a “very good opportunity”. It reaffirmed that everyone needed to do his or her job and do it better. It also gave UN-Women a broader capacity, as it could through its partners. However, she pointed to a “structural tension” in which incentives existed against the “One UN” programme, noting that they needed to be addressed. In the process of defining how to do better, it had become clear that “collectiveness needs collective incentives”. The Quadrennial Policy Review could do well to address that structural tension and focus, instead, on how to build teamwork within the United Nations system.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, outlined several ways for the United Nations development system to better serve the varied demands of programme countries. First, the quality and quantity of funding should be improved. Despite repeated calls from the General Assembly, the imbalance between core and non-core finding had worsened and, therefore, needed to be properly addressed. The increasing shift from core to non-core funding led to fragmentation and could impair the effectiveness and efficiency of operational activities, as non-core resources were unpredictable and increased transaction costs, inefficiency, incoherence and fragmentation of the United Nations system, including at the country level, causing competition among organizations, as well as inviting them to divert from their respective mandates.
Second, the Resident Coordinator should carry out his duties in fair and transparent manner in accordance with its mandate and in full coordination with national authorities. Third, the programming instruments at the country level could be further streamlined. The UNDAFs, where they existed, should serve as an overarching strategic framework for agency programming. They should not be converted into rigid instruments that prevented both the flexibility and the case-by-case approach needed in the field. Fourth, innovative solutions should be explored to reduce excessive transaction costs for the United Nations development system.
MARIA ZOUPANIOTIS (Cyprus), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said within the current complex and fragmented development landscape, the United Nations played a key role as a convening and implementing body of critical global public goods. It was of utmost importance to forge a shared vision on how the system could reposition itself at the centre of this fast-changing development architecture to deliver coherent, effective and efficient outcomes. The Policy Review resolution should pay due regard to the need for a delivery that was results-oriented, transparent and accountable.
Recognizing that non-core contributions would likely remain the modality of choice, it was important to discuss how to improve predictability, flexibility and alignment with national and agreed priorities. Cost-recovery from those contributions should also be examined, she said.
Welcoming the outcome of the recent Tirana High-Level Conference on “Delivering as One”, she said it would be crucial for that document to feed into the deliberations of the Review to ensure that successful aspects of “Delivering as One” were captured and taken forward. As the Secretary-General’s report had called for a second generation of “Delivering as One” countries, it was time for the United Nations system to come up with a new business model with standard operating procedures that would enable the effective functioning of implementation on the ground. For the initiative to fulfil its potential, both the independent evaluation and the stakeholder surveys underlined an urgent need for the United Nations system to address bottlenecks at Headquarters through streamlining programming, funding, reporting and accountability mechanisms. She called on the Secretary-General and UNDG to urgently show strong leadership in bringing forward these reforms.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal) speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, said that the States of his delegation depended on the United Nations system more than others for both normative and operational activities, a point to bear in mind when evaluating programmes and setting the strategic direction through the Quadrennial Policy Review. Just as the Istanbul Programme of Action outlined the framework for a renewed partnership to address challenges facing least developed countries, the United Nations had a special responsibility to ensure the Programme’s full, effective and expeditious implementation. With the changing dynamics of development actors and partnerships, the United Nations entities must reposition their operational activities to respond to current ground reality.
Expressing serious concern, he said that, despite a broadened resource base, the United Nations development system’s core contribution had been declining and the imbalance between core and non-core funding was widening. Further, lessons learned from the 30 “Delivering as One” pilot countries should be utilized. The United Nations should continue efforts towards realizing cost savings and streamlining preparation, monitoring and reporting processes on development assistance frameworks and country programmes. South-South cooperation also had great potential to transform the global development landscape and needed to be fully harnessed. The United Nations system must improve the coherence and coordination of its support for South-South cooperation through innovative joint programmes, multi-country initiatives and stronger multilateral funding.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted that the upcoming Quadrennial Policy Review would frame the United Nations operational activities for the next four years. The process must, therefore, be guided by the need to take action-oriented decisions, to avoid excessive bureaucracy and to enable Member States to address head-on the hurdles that still hampered the United Nations development system to fulfil its ambitious mandate with which it was entrusted. It was important to urge, under the leadership of national authorities, greater consistency between the strategic frameworks developed by the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, while maintaining the institutional integrity and organizational mandates of each organization and national poverty reduction strategies.
The Community wished to highlight the paramount importance of the concept of the necessary “critical mass” of development funding, in particular an environment where core funding had been stagnant compared to the exponential growth of non-core funding. He said that CELAC was also particularly concerned with the “suppression” of country offices, country teams and the programmatic presence of many funds and programmes, especially in the region. While recognizing the special needs of both the least developed and conflict-affected countries, his delegation was of the view that limiting the funds and programme’s activities to a specific group ran counter to the principles of United Nations operational activities, damaged their legitimacy and resulted in their intellectual and programmatic impoverishment.
In addition, a strengthened presence in a vast array of developing countries would allow for the system to benefit from successful projects that could be replicated in other countries, upon their request. In that sense, CELAC was seriously concerned about the trends that indicated a reduction in the allocation of official development assistance (ODA) and the broadening imbalance between core and non-core contributions to United Nations operational activities. It also advocated for a stronger voice and more effective participation of developing countries in the governance of the United Nations development system, he said, calling for “innovative ways” to enhance that capacity.
MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway), also speaking on behalf of Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said “we are seeking to achieve a UN that is as efficient and effective as possible in delivering sustainable development for all”. As such, he regarded “Delivering as One” as a success and he urged listening to what the pilots and self-starters had to say. The time had come to define a strategic and results-oriented “One UN” as the Organization’s main approach at the country level. There also must be a clearer strategic focus, better results frameworks, better results monitoring, and better evaluation. In addition, the Resident Coordinator’s authority must be strengthened and made clear to all, with more emphasis placed in the candidate selection process on experience that corresponded with the relevant country.
He went on to say that core funding was essential for operational activities, noting concern at the high level of earmarked non-core funding that underpinned them. The quality of non-core funding must improve. Also, discussion with the governing bodies of United Nations agencies was needed on how to finance desired results. In fragile and conflict-affected countries, the United Nations had comparative advantages that made it an important actor, and at the same time, it was subject to more stringent controls and higher demands for results. Risk assessment and management must be discussed with a view to elaborating a joint framework. More also must be done to integrate the gender perspective into all parts of the United Nations system. All of those issues demanded commitment and leadership, both from Member States and the Organization.
PETER BAXTER ( Australia) said the Quadrennial Policy Review was the opportunity to institutionalize critical reforms to the United Nations development system. There were four areas where Australia saw potential for change: results; leadership; coordination and coherence; and inclusive development in United Nations operational activities. More specifically, he said that result-based strategic planning and management must be improved at agency and system-wide levels. The UNDAF results matrices must be strengthened. Results should be built into decision-making and communicated to all stakeholders. Indicators and reporting frameworks needed to be harmonized, and capacity-building of staff should be a focus.
Further, there was a need to strengthen United Nations leadership at the country level. He said that empowering Resident Coordinators was a practical way to build coherence. Full implementation of the Management and Accountability Framework by United Nations Country Teams was essential. Australia believed the United Nations had the tools to improve coordination and coherence at the country level. It was time to streamline and standardize those tools across the United Nations system. Finally, pursuing an inclusive approach to development, based on equity, must be an explicit objective of the United Nations development agenda.
ANNE ANDERSON ( Ireland) discussed key issues requiring attention, saying first that the Quadrennial Policy Review resolution must reflect the fact that the “significant” majority of stakeholders surveyed in preparation for the text agreed on the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the United Nations’ work. The resolution must also underpin the role of UN-Women to lead and coordinate, while strengthening gender awareness across the system. Next, development effectiveness must be improved. Lessons learned from the independent evaluation of “Delivering as One” must be carried through to this year’s resolution. “Ideally, what we want is light process delivering significant results,” she said. “We most certainly do not want an imbalance in the opposite direction.”
More generally, reporting on results could and should be made more effective, she said, noting, for example, that duplication could be eliminated by introducing a single format for progress reports. The United Nations should find ways of institutionalizing new partnerships with non-governmental actors. Another priority was addressing rising inequality within and among countries. The equity approach being developed by UNICEF should lead to a major rethinking of development programmes, with more cross-sector and inter-agency approaches. Finally the needs of post-conflict countries must be addressed.
ALEXANDER S. ALIMOV ( Russian Federation) attached great importance to the Quadrennial Policy Review, as it was the main source of policy guidance for reforming the Organization’s operational activities. The main principles of those activities should be reaffirmed. United Nations assistance could be sustainable only if provided on a sustainable basis. A discussion must be held on financing for system-wide coherence, especially for spending on Resident Coordinator and “One UN” projects. Financing operational activities required attention, and he underlined the importance of predictable, stable and suitable funds in that regard. Core resources were essential for their effectiveness. A pragmatic approach should be taken in addressing the ratio between core and non-core resources.
He went on to say that determining the amounts needed for thematic programmes was a sovereign right and the Russian Federation had noted the innovative funding mechanisms in that regard. Those resources could play a role but did not replace traditional funding sources. His Government was actively participating in the dialogue on middle-income country cooperation. Unilateral approaches to those countries were unjustified. Given their diversity, it would be unwise to single them out into a separate category. They required flexible forms of assistance.
PAUL SEGER ( Switzerland) said upcoming Quadrennial Policy Review negotiations offered an “enormous” opportunity to show a common commitment to a more coherent, effective United Nations development system. Over the last five years, one lesson learned was that the leadership of development cooperation rested with developing countries. To meet their needs — and those of their populations — those countries must take ownership of their development results. Such ownership also impacted the functioning of United Nations operational activities, as the system was duty bound to provide each country with its preferred operational modalities. Another lesson was that every situation was different and required appropriate solutions. The absence of a “one-size-fits-all” approach strengthened the belief that the system must rely more on local actors.
He went on to say that a coordinated and organized system produced better results than a fragmented one. That could be achieved through harmonized and simplified business practices in agencies, funds and programmes. Comprehensive policy must above all be operational and clear, and he voiced hope the QCPR would provide a flexible legal framework so countries could draw maximum benefit from the United Nations according to their needs. But it also must be sufficiently precise to avoid bureaucratic or administrative obstacles. The coordination of all actors of both the humanitarian aid and development cooperation systems was all the more fundamental in countries in transition from crisis.
PETER SILBERBERG ( Germany) said that the Quadrennial Policy Review presented an opportunity to put in practice the decisions taken at the Rio+20 Conference as regarded United Nations’ operational activities. That exercise should help ensure that United Nations entities mainstreamed sustainable development into their substantive work and operations. The exercise would include mainstreaming such development into strategic plans and programming, as well as by implementing sustainable management of facilities and sustainable procurement. The Quadrennial Policy Review was an opportunity to align the result frameworks of United Nations agencies and to ensure that they had a clear, measurable and operational focus on the objectives, outcome and impact. One key element for that was to ensure a better and clearer linking between strategic plans and results frameworks. In doing that, perspectives and views of programme countries needed to be taken into account.
He went on to say that United Nations agencies needed to be directly accountable for their inputs. They needed to demonstrate more clearly how they contributed towards outcomes and impacts at the country level. It was also necessary to look at ways to measure the contribution of the system as a whole towards development results. On “Delivering as One”, he said that analytical reports, and stakeholder surveys and the QCPR independent evaluation constituted an important evidence base for the Review. To enhance the sustainability of the “Delivering as One” initiative, that approach had to become the standard model for the United Nations system and should be translated into specific concrete actions system wide. The “One Programme” and “One Budgetary Framework” approach should be institutionalized as the Organization’s main country-level operating approach. Country contexts should, however, be taken into consideration, in recognition that no one size fits all.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) highlighted three cross-cutting priority areas, namely presence, flexibility and governance. In order to be a relevant partner in the efforts of developing countries to overcome historical barriers and achieve equitable sustainable development, United Nations operational activities must, first of all, be present in those countries. The Organization’s funds and programmes must be on the ground to assist national Governments to design development plans, to offer policy guidance and funding alternatives and to help in their implementation.
In all the panel discussions held during the operational activities segment, the Council had heard, time and again, that in developing assistance there should be no “one-size-fit-all” approach, she said. That should be made true especially in terms of the model of assistance to be offered by the system. It was of the utmost importance that progress be made on the question of governance of United Nations operational activities by Member States. If each agency, fund and programme benefited from its own comparative advantages, every one of them also gained from a shared collective strength: its multilateral, politically unbiased nature. To further improve that fundamental feature, all Member States must be empowered to fully participate in all decision-making governance structures of United Nations operational activities, especially in the Executive Boards of funds and programmes.
JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI ( El Salvador) stressed the importance of retaining the universal and voluntary nature of operational development activities in order to respond to the needs of programme countries. The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review should aim for ambitious results on the ground through measures such as promoting exchange of best practices and knowledge sharing. United Nations agencies should work in a more coordinated fashion and the Review would provide orientation and guidance in that regard. The Resident Coordinators Office must be strengthened so that it could facilitate national ownership and reduce costs.
The capacity of the multinational system to respond had been challenged by a host of recent events. Therefore, allocating sufficient budgetary resources was vital, he said, stressing the difficulty of balancing core and non-core funding. United Nations funds and programmes must adopt measures to support South-South and triangular cooperation. Given middle-income countries’ uneven development, they still needed to have access to United Nations development expertise and the UNDG’s regional teams had ample know-how in that regard, such as technical support. They could adequately assess the needs of programme countries. “Delivering as One” was very important, but its efficiency needed to improve. His Government had decided to begin a “self-starter” process for the initiative and would appreciate support from Member States.
JORGE LAGUNA ( Mexico) said that South-South, triangular and traditional cooperation were crucial development tools. The exchange of knowledge was useful for linking donors with partners in the global South. The United Nations system should work together to strengthen ties among Governments, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. In recent years, international cooperation had changed in the wake of the financial crisis, he said, noting the disappearance of remittances and trends towards declining ODA. The parameters governing resource allocation through ODA channels must be revised.
A specific discussion about the situations of middle-income countries should be held, he said, as their needs were different from least developed countries. Also, an assessment of sustainable development needs must be carried out, beginning with economic, social and environmental indicators. To guarantee effectiveness, it was essential to use all possible tools in a coordinated, strategic fashion. The “Delivering as One” and Resident Coordinator system should be stepped up. It was important to draw all lessons possible from “Delivering as One”. The upcoming work for Quadrennial Policy Review should include Rio+20 results, and acknowledge that economic policies were linked with social and environmental policies.
NAMGYA KHAMPA ( India), said the Rio+20 Conference “handed to us the future we want and the road to realize it”. The United Nations development system must respond to the greatest challenge confronting developing countries: poverty. For those countries, inclusive growth and a rapid increase in per capita income were imperative. Poverty eradication should be at the heart of United Nations operational activities. Also, the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment should be fully reflected in the Quadrennial Review process. Developing countries had their own needs and different context-based requirements that should be met by the United Nations.
Further, operational activities must be harmonized with their budgetary and planning cycles, she explained. The principles of national ownership and leadership, and deference to national priorities must be pivots around which work was organized. Financing for development was coming under increasing pressure, making the requirement of enhanced ODA all the more critical, as developing countries faced curtailed capital flows and increased programming requirements. Those needs must be met by efforts to increase ODA, and promote investment and trade flows by facilitating access to advanced technologies. Finally, while South-South cooperation continued to be a buzz word, it could not dilute or substitute for North-South cooperation.
SUL KYUNG-HOON ( Republic of Korea) said the global landscape offered mixed perspectives on the future of development cooperation. The adverse impacts of economic and financial difficulties and rising unemployment threatened hard-won development gains. While it was encouraging that more — and more diverse — actors were engaged in development cooperation, that diversity, if uncoordinated, risked fragmentation and duplication. As such, the Quadrennial Policy Review should take a broader and longer-term perspective to help the development system implement its mandate, but also promote sustainable development and set the post-2015 agenda. The Review also should provide guidance for facilitating engagement with varied development actors, including the private sector. The United Nations development system should refrain from interacting with other “important entities and partnerships”.
He underlined the need to enhance the system-wide coherence by integrating the “Delivering as One” initiative into United Nations operational activities. In such work, clear guidance to the Organization’s agencies must be given on strengthening the coordination role of the Resident Coordinator. Horizontal accountability in United Nations country teams also should be firmly established. Finally, the Review should focus on facilitating the coherent transition from relief to development in countries affected by conflict and natural disaster. In that regard, the role of humanitarian coordinators should be strengthened and the exercise should reflect on how to secure qualified humanitarian coordinators and provide them with training. The growing imbalance between core and non-core resources should also be fully addressed.
FIONA RITCHIE ( United Kingdom) said United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies should continue to strengthen and improve the quality of results-based management in the planning of activities and projects at all levels in order to effectively monitor, evaluate and manage results. That should include developing and implementing evidence-based strategic plans which set out the results the Organization expects to achieve, supported by robust organizational results frameworks covering the whole results chain.
On cost effectiveness, the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review should encourage agencies to increase transparency on costs, particularly administrative costs, to further improve procurement practices, she said. It should also instil a culture of cost and value awareness, including in programming, to ensure maximum achievement of results with the funds available. The Review was an important opportunity to frame the United Nations development system’s critical role in disaster resilience, transition and development. The United Kingdom stood ready to support the United Nations development system as it sought to achieve even greater impact in an ever changing world.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, attached great importance to the Quadrennial Policy Review. Cuba would negotiate in the Group of 77 during that process. He urged avoiding use of “unjustified pressure”. He voiced hope the principles governing operational activities would be reaffirmed and that no attempts to renegotiate them would be made. He noted the universality, neutrality, voluntary participation and alignment with national priorities in that regard. It was important to recognize the experience of each agency, fund or programme on the ground, which required an increase in predictable and secure resources.
Core funding financed operational activities, he said, and donors were obliged to reverse the trend of reduced core funds. Core funding must be available to countries without preconditions. Ownership, leadership and the full participation of developing countries was essential in all planning and programming documents, including in the UNDAF. He said Cuba would follow the evaluation of the “Delivering as One” programme, noting that the Review must reflect the diversity of development modalities. On the mandate of the Resident Coordinators, “we should not revisit what was agreed in previous documents”, he said, noting nonetheless that geographic representation could be improved. In sum, the Review should enhance the intergovernmental nature of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.
MASNI ERIZA, Deputy Director for Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, emphasized that the United Nations system’s effectiveness needed to be grounded in two principles, the first being that all development activities undertaken by the Organization be “country-driven, not donor-driven”. The second principle was that all activities be based on national development priorities. National ownership of the development process, he stressed, needed to be acknowledged and respected. The Quadrennial Review process was essential to comprehensive reform of the Organization, specifically as regarded development activities. Thus, the 2012 Review needed to ensure the full and effective implementation of development programmes while making certain the development system did not suffer “an erosion of effectiveness” in an area that was becoming dynamic and competitive.
He went on to say that new economic Powers were emerging into the global economy. Several developing countries were no longer recipients but were now providers of development assistance and technical cooperation. However, he pointed out that the international community should not lose sight of the fact that those emerging countries continued to struggle with “old problems” such as poverty, hunger, and the unmet needs of vulnerable groups, to name a few. That indicated that those countries still required assistance from the United Nations system funds and programmes, especially if they were to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
In that regard, he continued, South-South cooperation was serving as a channel and mechanism for capacity-building, knowledge sharing, technology transfer and regional integration. However, he underscored that such expansion in the Global South did not mean that developing countries did not need international assistance, recalling the 2009 Nairobi Conference on South-South Cooperation and Development, which had highlighted the role of the United Nations in strengthening such cooperation towards increased development partnerships. He pointed out that the Quadrennial Review process should not be viewed narrowly, but within a broader context not solely tied to operational activities for development. Moreover, the support from the United Nations system was critical for the continued economic progress of developing countries. Concluding, he called for the resolution of imbalanced funding resources which in turn would help developing countries attain the Millennium Gaols and other international development targets.
GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) welcomed the United Nations’ role in providing country-level advocacy, policy advice and support towards development of national and local capacity. Noting that his country had maintained or even increased its support to funds and programmes in a tight fiscal environment, he said that it also partnered with agencies on specific areas necessary to achieve the Millennium Goals. It had long considered reform critical at the institutional level, where efficiency, results and impact needed to be demonstrated, and at country level, where United Nations entities needed to work more effectively together under national priorities. Progress had been made at both levels, but much more needed to be done to ensure the continued relevance of the Organization in a changing world.
Welcoming analysis in that regard, he stressed that mutual accountability among United Nations country team members needed to be solidified and supported by proper incentives at all levels. He said that the full range of necessary capacities must be ensured in Resident Coordinators’ offices, including those for monitoring and evaluation and results-based management, of which there was evidence of a lack of robust application. Member States needed to provide strong and consistent oversight in that area. Coordination and coherence at the country level needed to be improved, with credible progress in the simplification and harmonization of business practices. Finally, in the area of gender equality and women’s empowerment, he called for full implementation of guidelines and for strengthened accountability, through full use of the system-wide framework that had been developed for that purpose.
KATSUHIKO TAKAHASHI ( Japan) said his delegation strongly believed that operational activities for development of the United Nations system should respond, in a flexible manner, to the real needs of programme countries. Japan, taking the point of view of human security, had constantly stressed throughout the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review process that United Nations operational activities should always take into account their ultimate objective, namely to reach out and help countries to better deliver assistance to people and communities in need. Given current complex and diversifying development challenges, the United Nations system should adopt a people-centred approach that was comprehensive and multi-sectoral in order to match real needs on the ground.
In that sense, he said, his delegation welcomed the tangible progress being realized in “Delivering as One” pilot and self-starter countries, and fully supported this sort of bottom-up approach as an engine to realize real improvement. It was Japan’s view that having Resident Coordinators was crucial to promote such people-centred, multi-sectoral, and bottom-up approaches on behalf of the United Nations system. The Resident Coordinator system should be further strengthened. Japan, as one of the largest donors of both total operational activities for development and development-related operational activities, was of the view that discussions concerning core and non-core funding should be advanced to a level which reflected current realities. According to the Secretary-General’s report, non-core funding consisted of thematic trust funds, multi-partner trust funds, “one-funds”, self-supporting local resources and programmatic and project-specific contributions. Those should not be bundled together under a single “non-core” label. Japan felt the need to “unpack” the various non-core funding modalities and analyse them according to their diverse characteristics.
AHMAD NASEEM WARRAICH ( Pakistan) said the development cooperation landscape was changing “in inverse proportion” to the situation of most developing countries, which appeared to be in an immutable plight. The “resource crunch” had come at a time when developing countries needed more resources. While not denying the contribution of new development actors, traditional multilateral and bilateral development assistance should be increased instead of being outsourced or privatized. Forward movement required that the experience of the United Nations be deployed more efficiently. Welcoming progress in improving effectiveness and coherence, he recognized that improving coordination was not cost-free.
He emphasized the importance of continued access by programme countries to the knowledge of non-resident agencies with fair cost-sharing. While the goal of enhancing effectiveness was to increase impact on the ground, it was also important that efficiency savings were channelled to development efforts in the same countries. Efforts to improve coherence should also involve the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as bilateral development partners. More use of national expertise and resources to support United Nations operational activities would benefit capacity-building. For their part, agencies should work according to their comparative advantages in line with programme country priorities. “Delivering as One” could not be dubbed a complete success, as fragmentation, monitoring and evaluation, competition for funds and the burden of several reporting lines must be addressed. The imbalance between core and non-core resources was a concern.
SERGIO F. TORO (Chile), said there was no doubt that it was fitting to discuss operational activities as the United Nations development system now involved 37 entities and provided some $23 billion in assistance in 2010. Compared with the previous review cycle, which began in 2007, more actors were involved, but at the same time, there was greater budgetary constraint. So, the question for Member States was how to achieve the best results with available funds.
He noted that not just ODA had declined but also contributions from partners in the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (DAC-OECD). Those were clear indications that resource management must be improved, and while such points had been reflected in the Secretary-General’s report, there was still a need for “a realty check”. About 76 per cent of the poor now lived in middle-income countries, and those countries’ specific needs meant they would require assistance from the United Nations system. As for the UNDAF and the Resident Coordinator system, both those mechanisms must be understood together. The Quadrennial Policy Review could help strengthen the Resident Coordinator system, which was not just about the individual capacity of resident coordinators. A firewall that limited the authority of those officials must be addressed, he added by example.
OLEKSANDR NAKONECHNYI ( Ukraine) said progress in enhancing the United Nations system’s functions and coherence was all the more important since it had taken place in a time of serious economic turmoil. He commended the “Delivering as One” approach as the way forward in support of national development plans. Overall funding for United Nations operations had more than doubled between 1995 and 2010 in real terms; however, he was seriously concerned at the decline of 2.7 per cent in ODA funding provided by DAC-OECD countries in 2011. Further attention should be given to reversing the imbalance between core and non-core funding, and to advancing the predictability, reliability and stability of funding flows.
On related themes, he welcomed gains at the system-wide level to improve the Resident Coordinator system, as well as the strengthened focus on capacity-development in programme countries. Ukraine also appreciated the active involvement of all United Nations bodies in empowering women, deeming the establishment of UN-Women to have been a historic step towards a more coherent Organization. As an Executive Board member, Ukraine would pay particular attention to ensuring more effective use of resources for relevant projects in specific countries and regions. He also commended the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF country and regional teams, and New York-based offices for their dedicated work on the new country programmes documents for Ukraine (2012-2016). The Government, in concert with civil society, looked forward to their full and effective implementation.
OKSANA MELNIKOVICH ( Belarus), underlining that operational funding should focus on results, supported efforts by Resident Coordinators to align their activities with national priorities. She also underlined the need to enhance support for middle-income countries in that regard, as assistance should be provided through a flexible mechanism between the United Nations and those countries. Belarus also called for a balanced and differentiated approach to the United Nations presence in middle-income countries, the basis for which should be their need for external assistance. In resource distribution, all categories of countries must be taken fully into account and efforts must ensure each country had the required resources for its programmes.
She was concerned at the share of core resources, which impacted operational activities. She proposed that negotiations be held on a “critical mass” of core resources and called on donors to refrain from taking a selective approach to providing financing. The resolution on the Quadrennial Policy Review should reflect, among other things, the importance of implementing operational activities on the basis of predictability and stability, taking into account national priorities. It also should acknowledge the United Nations’ presence in countries that required its assistance, including middle-income countries. Maintaining ODA was an important financing source. Innovative did not replace traditional financing.
STEPHANIE KNIGHT ( New Zealand) offered several suggestions for improvements through the Quadrennial Review. Those were results, coherence, leadership, inclusive participation, transition from relief to development, and devoting more attention to the situation of small island developing States. Specifically, she said more could be done in terms of results-based strategic planning and management. Harmonization of results must be applied across the system, with more robust indicators and improved monitoring and evaluation. In addition, application of lessons learned was now required to develop common programming, joint action plans, and common budgetary frameworks. Her Government supported adopting a single approval process for common programming within the Executive Boards.
Continuing, she said there was the need to strengthen leadership at country level, and also, all development activities must be inclusive, particularly of women and persons with disabilities. There was also a need to find a more nuanced understanding of transitions from relief to development, based on the normative principles underlying United Nations operations, such as human rights, gender equality and inclusiveness. She said that New Zealand supported the strengthening of coordination and coherence of support provided to small island developing States. Mainstreaming issues of concern to those States into operational activities would allow them to benefit fully from the support of the United Nations development system.
JULIO ESCALONA ( Venezuela), aligning with the Group of 77 and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the Quadrennial Policy Review was of vital importance, as the needs of each country must be considered in line with its stated priorities. He stressed respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity in that regard, saying also that recipient Governments bore responsibility for the functioning of operational activities. Those activities should be covered by the mandates of the United Nations funds and programmes, so they did not lessen or divert the other competencies under those mandates.
Citing paragraph 273 of the Rio+20 outcome document, he said operational activities must include those for promoting technology transfer to developing countries. Developed country commitments must be fulfilled in that context. The United Nations funds and programmes were not “emergency” institutions and, as such, their work should aim to achieve long-term development. Donors must honour their pledges for predictable and stable resources. Stressing the importance of South-South cooperation, he said Venezuela “took distance” from the Paris Declaration. There must be a balance between core and non-core funding so that the latter did not replace the former.
NOJIBUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) said preparatory discussions on the Quadrennial Policy Review during the operational activities segment had assumed special significance as they were taking place at the confluence of a number of important processes, namely the follow-up and implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action on the Least Developed Countries, identification of the post-2015 development agenda and the just-concluded Rio+20 Conference. All those processes demanded greater involvement of the United Nations development system especially of the funds and programmes in the days ahead at national, regional and global levels, and it was his Government’s expectation that those entities would continue to meet the need of the hour.
Second, his delegation recognized that the United Nations development system had come a long way and there had been positive and remarkable progress on the ground in response to key legislative guidance on system-wide coordination coming out of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the respective Executive Boards. As a result, programming countries like Bangladesh had found in the funds and programmes their important partners in development whom they resorted to for all critical assistance in implementing strategies with the goals of poverty eradication and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals at their hearts.
Third, he said that at this juncture, lingering global challenges and multiple crises such as the recurring global economic and financial crisis, climate change, widening resource gaps in achieving the Millennium Goals, health problems, unemployment and job creation issues continued to threaten to undo the progress made by the least developed countries in the last decade. Global problems affected all nations, but surely had had disproportionate impact on the citizens of the most vulnerable countries. Fourth, Bangladesh hoped to see the strengthening of the Resident Coordinator system with appropriate mandate and adequate resources with a built-in accountability mechanism which encompassed both vertical and horizontal dimensions.
WANG MIN ( China) said public funds were the core of international development cooperation. Expanding development financing laid the foundation for deepening development cooperation. Sufficient, stable and predictable core resources were essential for the improvement of the resource status of the United Nations development system, and reflected the core concern of developing countries. The current downward spiral of financing for development, the uneven resource structure and fragmentation of resources had seriously undermined the effective operation of the United Nations development system and its agencies.
He said that the UNDAF provided an overall strategic framework for the cooperation between the Organization’s development system and its agencies and recipient countries. The Resident Coordinator system and the “Delivering as One” initiative contributed to implementation of the UNDAF in recipient countries. South-South cooperation offered an important avenue for developing countries to play to their advantages, strengthen unity and give mutual assistance, improve cohesion and achieve common development. China recognized the huge potential and vitality of South-South cooperation, he declared.
DIEGO CANEYA ( Uruguay), said it was important to increase core funding for operational activities, as well as balance core and non-core funding. It was essential to align United Nations activities with national priorities to ensure national ownership. During the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, the United Nations’ role must be recognized in middle-income countries. He disagreed with measuring development solely on the basis of economic growth. Often, middle-income countries had weak institutions, which was why the United Nations was needed.
He said the United Nations often provided the framework of legitimacy for building consensus to establish institutions. In addition, it was important for the resolution on the Review to mention empowerment of the Resident Coordinators towards strengthening country-level activities. The Resident Coordinator system should not lose its essential development component. Another key aspect was to implement accountability and mutual responsibility. The link between United Nations country teams and Resident Coordinators must be strengthened. Indeed, the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review should be the cornerstone for bringing about concrete change.
SOPHIA BORGES (Timor-Leste), associating with statements made, respectively, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the Least Developed Countries, said her country, like many least developed countries, would not achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015. As such, the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action was crucial for providing support. Timor-Leste had benefitted from a strong partnership with the United Nations, and there were several aspects of operational engagement in the transition from relief to development in the post-conflict context that could be improved. First, aid effectiveness and quality should be improved. Aid should be delivered in a predictable manner that ensured rapid and flexible delivery.
Next, she said, United Nations operational activities should create the foundations for inclusive economic development, including employment and effective natural resource management. There could be no development without peace, and no peace without development. As such, capacity-building work must integrate country specific characteristics, while improvements in host country consultations would ensure that programmes were country led and fully integrated into national priorities. Capacity-building should pay special attention to women as they were powerful agents of peace and potential drivers of economic growth. Finally, she stressed the need for long-term engagement strategies that included the need to shift short- and long-term priorities at the same time. Timor-Leste was the Chair of the “g7+”, which aimed to improve the effectiveness of assistance by sharing experiences. Its members had endorsed a “New Deal for Peace and Engagement in Fragile States”, that offered a new approach to how aid was delivered.
MINA DOWLATCHAHI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), delivering a joint statement with the International Labour Organization (ILO), said that it was the common interest of all stakeholders to pursue high-quality leadership in Resident Coordinators to ensure that the expertise available in the United Nations system, whether from resident or non-resident agencies, was fully leveraged. It was also important to achieve a strategic coordination function, which was key to success. Funding of the Resident Coordinators’ offices needed to be reviewed, within the relevant overall funding architecture of the United Nations system. There was also need to recognize technical and knowledge-based support provided to the Resident Coordinator by the United Nations country team members as co-financing.
She said that the FAO and ILO had contributed to the “Delivering as One” approach, and recognized the “no-one-size-fits-all” principle. “We have experience in complementary collaborative coordination models, such as thematic clusters,” she said. Within the Quadrennial Policy Review debate, FAO and ILO hoped to see that the comparative advantage of the United Nations system such as those in regulatory and standard setting and in normative and knowledge generation should be fully leveraged.
KAZI A. RAHMAN United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reaffirmed his commitment to coherence in United Nations operational activities. The experience gained in recent years, as well as lessons learned through “Delivering as One”, should be most valuable in that regard. Efforts thus far to share with programme countries the skills and expertise of non-resident agencies should be intensified. The smaller agencies often had no country, regional or subregional presence. Resident Coordinators must be more proactive in facilitating the knowledge of those agencies in support of activities in programme countries. The second generation of “Delivering as One” should require their more active involvement. The benefits of coordination exceeded the costs. He was encouraged by the benefits of burden-sharing of coordination costs, underlining that the principle of fairness should be observed in funding.
MOEZ DORAID, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), touched on the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment to development, saying that the Quadrennial Policy Review provided an “excellent” opportunity for underscoring the instrumental value of gender equality and women’s empowerment. States could consider requesting, through the Review, greater focus on gender-related outcomes and outputs in such efforts as the UNDAF, in line with national priorities. On accountability, he hoped the Review would reaffirm States’ resolve to improve accountability on gender equality and women’s empowerment. On the United Nations gender architecture, the Review should recognize the system-wide mandate that the General Assembly accorded UN-Women. States could reiterate that its creation should strengthen the resolve and investment in gender-related areas by the rest of the United Nations system, and enhance the system’s work.
In closing remarks, Council Vice-President DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia) said, “your deliberations over these three days have been both substantive and constructive, which bodes well for the upcoming Quadrennial Policy Review”. The United Nations development system had long been an important pillar of multilateral development cooperation, with operational activities accounting in 2010 for one third of all ODA. By that measure, the United Nations was the largest multilateral development partner of DAC-OECD countries. But the Organization’s relevance could not be taken for granted and future success would depend on the ability to effectively respond to changing circumstances.
The Quadrennial Policy Review would provide an important opportunity for Member States, he said, noting that there were some “low-hanging fruit” the process could harvest. The Council’s deliberations during the operational activities segment would provide a key input to the Secretary-General’s second report on the Quadrennial Review. One key message was that many programme countries expected that exercise to result in a revitalized functioning of the United Nations at the country level. The system should also be geared towards meeting the demands for national ownership and leadership. The sustainability of the development system’s funding also must be critically examined, with reflection on whether the development system had lost too much of its multilateral character. “I am confident that the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review will not only make headway on some aspects but will also be a departure point for strategic shifts in United Nations operational activities for development”, he concluded, suspending the session. [The Council is expected to approve the session’s outcome at a later date.]
* *** *For information media • not an official record